Vaccines train the immune system to fend off an attack by a pathogen.
Now, while traditional vaccines make use of a weakened or inactive part of a particular pathogen, or in this case, SARS-COV-2 virus, mRNA vaccines use a molecule called messenger RNA (or mRNA), rather than the actual pathogen to train the immune system.
Messenger RNA is a type of RNA that helps in protein production. mRNA vaccines work by introducing a part of mRNA that reacts to the viral protein. Once the immune system recognizes the foreign protein body, it accelerates production of antibodies and trains the immune system to recognize the virus in the future, thereby offering protection. To simplify, the mRNA technology is used to instruct the immune system to create a harmless piece similar to the actual spike protein, which then helps the body fight off future infections.
As with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, the vaccines make use of mRNA which help cells produce copies of the spike protein, present outside the coronavirus membrane. Just as soon the genetic information about the SARS-COV-2 was available, scientists began designing mRNA codes to create the unique spike protein needed to create mRNA vaccines.
While this is the first time that mRNA vaccines have received high level authorisation, many pharmaceutical companies and vaccine majors are working on using mRNA technology to fight other infectious diseases and use them in other therapies as well. Some of the mRNA treatment plans are used to treat some forms of cancer and viral diseases as well.